– Walker Law –
Informal Probate Without a Will
Understanding Informal Probate Without a Will
Informal probate and appointment of a personal representative to handle the probate proceedings are governed by Minnesota Statutes Sections 524.3-301 through 524.3-311. Probate is the legal process of getting court authority to transfer property of a person after death. To start a probate case, a petition or application must be filed with the court and a personal representative must be appointed by a court order. (View Resource)
Minnesota Statutes Section 524.3-301
Under Minnesota Statutes Section 524.3-301, an informal probate proceeding is a proceeding for the probate of a decedent’s estate and may or may not include an application for informal appointment of a personal representative. Informal proceedings are conducted by a judge, the registrar, or the person or persons designated by the judge for probate or appointment of a personal representative. (View Resource)
An application for informal probate cannot be made until at least 120 hours have elapsed since the decedent’s death. Notice of the application for informal probate must be given in the method described in Minnesota Statutes Section 524.1-401 to (A) any person demanding it pursuant to Section 524.3-204, (B) any (other) personal representative whose appointment has not been terminated and (C) any person having a prior or equal right to appointment not waived in writing and filed with the court.
The methods of providing Notice are as follows:
(1) by mailing a copy thereof at least 14 days before the time set for the hearing by certified, registered or ordinary first class mail addressed to the person being notified at the post office address given in the demand for notice, if any, or at the demander’s office or place of residence, if known;
(2) by delivering a copy thereof to the person being notified personally at least 14 days before the time set for the hearing; or
(3) if the address, or identity of any person is not known and cannot be ascertained with reasonable diligence, by publishing once a week for two consecutive weeks, a copy thereof in a legal newspaper in the county where the hearing is to be held, the last publication of which is to be at least 10 days before the time set for the hearing. (View Resource)
Typically, the Registrar will handle informal probate proceedings including the initial review of the Petition and appointment of the personal representative. An additional requirement is that notice of the pending proceedings be published in a legal newspaper publication once a week for two consecutive weeks in the county where the application for probate is filed. While a probate registrar is not a judge they will have designated powers to oversee most informal probate matters. The registrar is authorized to take acknowledgments, administer oaths, fix and approve bonds, provide information on the various methods of transferring property of decedents, issue letters in informal proceedings, and perform other acts the court may authorize by written order as necessary or incidental to the conduct of informal proceedings. (View Resource)
Once the personal representative has been appointed and issued letters of administration it will be up to that person to ensure that all of the decedent’s assets and debts are accounted for (This process is explained in another article (see, Marshaling Probate Assets and Probate Accounting). Once all legal required debts (see, Creditors Claims) are paid the personal representative will determine the share remaining for all of the respective heirs and the amounts that each heir should receive from the Estate. When the personal representative has completed all of the required tasks the estate can be closed (See, Process for Closing the Estate).